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Turkey surges ahead with hybrid electric national car

Turkey purchased the license to the technology of the Saab 9-3 from NEVS in 2015. The prototype above is a mule wearing a Cadillac BLS body. Photo credit: TUBITAK
Jay Ramey is an associate editor with Autoweek, an affiliate of Automotive News.

Elon Musk's recent trip to Turkey and meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan included discussions about the country's national car project, which generated a few headlines two years ago after Turkey purchased the license to the Saab 9-3 from National Electric Vehicle Sweden.

The project is still on track despite the advanced age of the 9-3 and the underlying tech, and the country's five major suppliers and tech giants have just signed on to produce the still-unnamed national car. Anadolu Group, Kıraca Holding, BMC, Turkcell and Zorlu Holding, some of which are involved in car production for other brands as suppliers, will form the industrial backing for the project, Hurriyet Daily News reports.

The car is expected to be a range-extended electric sedan. The country's Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology indicated last year that the debut model will be an electric car with a small gasoline engine as a range extender, likely with a 15-kilowatt-hour battery and a pure-electric range of 60 miles before the range extender kicks in. The consortium of companies expects a working prototype by 2019 and the start of production by 2021.


The idea of Turkey's national car has been around for some time -- especially as manufacturing by other car brands soared in Turkey after 2000 -- but the major push was the purchase of Saab 9-3 technology in 2015.

"Century-old automobile giants are racing with each other in new-generation car technologies. So now is the right time for the Turkish automobile," Rifat Hisarciklioglu, chairman of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges, an organization involved in the project, told Hurriyet. "We will work very hard for three or four months to analyze the alternative technologies and funding options."


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